JOLIET, Ill. (July 31, 2010) – Current SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series points leader Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., saw two streaks get broken two weeks ago in Toronto.
In qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto, Ave’s streak of consecutive pole positions was snapped at three races when Tomy Drissi took the pole. The next day, he saw RJ Lopez snap his three-race win streak with his maiden victory in Trans-Am competition.
Ave took his first step toward another pole streak in qualifying for the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix presented by Mazda by scoring his series-leading fifth pole position. Driving the No. 4 Lamers Racing/McMahon Group/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette, Ave posted a best lap at 2:17.517 (93.195 mph) on just his second flying lap around the 3.56-mile circuit.
That lap was nearly three seconds quicker than his best lap from Friday’s practice sessions, and the quickest one anybody had ever turned in a Trans-Am car at Autobahn Country Club. He easily took the top starting spot by more than a second and a half over second-place qualifier Lopez, and it was the 11th pole of Ave’s Trans-Am career.
“It was good,” Ave said. “We’ve been working on the old tire stuff, because some of the other guys, like RJ in particular, have been better at the end of the race, so we’ve been worried about that. That’s what we worked on here. When we stickered up, we just picked up a bunch of time and we had the car running really good. It’s a new motor, the other one I ran all year, so I’m sure that was worth a bit. It just ran really good.”
Lopez, of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, will start from the outside of the front row by virtue of a best qualifying lap at 2:19.205 (92.065 mph) in the No. 6 Disco 106/ECR Engines/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette. It will be Lopez’s first front-row start in Trans-Am competition, but he was hoping for his first pole, especially after leading both practice sessions on Friday.
“It went pretty good,” said Lopez. “I thought we were going to go a little quicker. We should have gone a little quicker. On one of our quick laps, we had to pass another car on track, so it kind of ruined my lap and ruined the other driver’s lap as well. On our lap that was the quick lap, I totally missed a corner. I couldn’t get to the apex. I came in a little too hot. I know we lost several tenths, maybe half a second there.
“We should have run a mid-18. I ran another lap and again got a little bit of traffic, whatever, but the car is good. That’s the important thing. We always focus on the race. We’re going to have a good racecar. It’s my first front-row start, so we’re still happy. We’re happy to start second. Obviously, we need to start ahead Tony. We need to beat Tony, because that’s what we’re going for in the championship. It’s all about the race, and we’ve got a good racecar.”
Defending series champion Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., had a difficult session qualifying session, but he still managed to take third on the grid with a lap at 2:19.316 (91.992 mph) in the No. 5 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Jaguar XKR. Drissi felt something was amiss with his racecar from the beginning of the session, but managed to coax as much speed as he could out of it before pulling off course late in the session with a mechanical problem.
“It just seemed like, when we were warming up our tires, like a fuel pickup problem or something like that,” said Drissi. “The motor, all the vitals were fine, so I tried to go do a couple of hot laps. I think we had a low-18 in us. I don’t know if we had a 17 like Ave did, but it’s a shame, because the RSR team has worked really hard. We’re going to have to throw some stuff at this car.
“The track didn’t feel the same, obviously, because it was greener, but it was greener for everybody else. I’m disappointed not putting the car on the pole, because we had a pole car, but what are you going to do when you’ve got a fuel pickup problem? We’re third. Maybe we’ll come out of Turn 1 in second, and then go to work. It’s not the best thing to be in second. It is a couple more points. We’ve just got to focus on each race and try to win. The only chance we have at this championship now is to win every race and to see where everybody else falls. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves. It’s a good team, we’ll rebound and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Amy Ruman, of Kent, Ohio, joins Drissi on the second row with a best lap at 2:21.925 (90.301 mph) in the No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette. The only woman in the Trans-Am field heads into Sunday’s race looking for her third consecutive podium result after a pair of third-place runs at Toronto and Road America.
Cliff Ebben, of Appleton, Wis., qualified fifth in the No. 36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford/Lamers Racing Ford Mustang at 2:22.034 (90.232 mph). Ebben is making his second Trans-Am start of the season and goes in search of his second career Trans-Am race victory in the Autobahn Grand Prix.
In qualifying for the STO class, which will race alongside the Trans-Am Series, Joe Koenig was the fastest qualifier in the No. 70 Trim-Tex Drywall Products/Fall-Line BMW M3. Koenig’s best lap was a 2:30.933 (84.911 mph).
The race, scheduled for 26 laps (92.56 miles), goes off at 3 p.m. CDT on Sunday afternoon.
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